reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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cabbage fields. [two artists tuesday]

in the age-old tale of things-are-often-not-as-they-appear, this beautiful almost-transparent white moth flits from lavender bloom to lavender bloom. in certain moments it is even hard to see, its translucent wings disappearing and then glinting in the sunlight. against the dark background of the deck, it is easier to see as it feeds on the nectar of these deep purple blossoms. it’s a cabbage white butterfly. and it is likely responsible for the tiny holes in the tomato plant leaves. it’s fortunate we do not have a cabbage patch as these little guys have the capacity to destroy it. such a beautiful little creature and so much potential for destruction of goodness.

i’m writing this (ahead) on a rainy sunday morning and it’s too easy on sundays for my mind (and heart) to jaunt over to the things-are-not-what-they-appear heading.

this translucent butterfly has specific markings (a black spot on the upward front side of its wings), a specific size just over an inch, markings that depict the gender, making it easier to identify and, if necessary, prevent or eradicate the damage it can do to a hard-earned crop. if it were to look like any other butterfly – or say, a beautiful monarch – it would be much more difficult for gardeners to recognize the peril, much more difficult for farmers to stand firm and work at keeping the crops safe that they have nourished so carefully, for so long, with so much dedication.

sitting on the deck watching this butterfly flit about, the sunlight catching its gentle wings here and there, i never suspected it might be at the root of the problem i am experiencing late in the season now with our cherry tomatoes. under a cloak of not-knowing and not-asking-enough-questions or googling enough, i didn’t know to point at this gentle creature. but the act of googling has given me information. i can look for larvae on the tomato leaves and examine the damage with a plan for it.

were it to be a full field of cabbage, like out in the county here, it would seem imperative to act upon this. a whole field of cabbage – a field of potential abundance – can be destroyed by the existence of something that people might never question. research says an infestation of the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar can destroy all cabbage growth, and prevention is said to be imperative to avoid the ruinous nature of such an aggressor. that way “you’ll have less work and damage later on.”

this butterfly has been here since the 1860s so its presence seems pretty solid and unshakable. i guess you have to pay attention to damage being wreaked around you in your tiny tomato garden, delve into it, gather information, ask questions and stop the quiet chaos from happening.

it’s easier when the wings are transparent, when the markings easily identifiable and when the community of gardeners and farmers are seeking the goodness of the cabbage field.

metaphors are everywhere.

*****

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vici, the caterpillar. [merely-a-thought monday]

perseverance is an understatement. the fuzzy caterpillar patiently and laboriously walked the tightrope above our garden, strung as a straight snap-line to lay bricks along the garden edge. his destination was unclear; i hardly think he could determine – ahead of time – which daylily leaf upon which he wished to land. perhaps he wanted to cross the whole expanse; maybe he wanted to travel clear across the yard in front of the old brick wall, but, along the way, tired and out of energy for further travails, took a side jaunt onto the nearest leaf.

we stood and watched him – he would scooch on the string and then his entire body would flip upside down. he – with every suction-cup-footed leg of his tiny body – would lurch back up on top of the string and continue slack-lining his way for maybe an inch and then – to our despair – he would flip over again, his legs holding him onto the string as he – upside down – continued on – what appeared to be – his merry way. he never appeared frustrated, though he flipped over constantly, alternating from side to side. he just kept going. and going. and going. surely, had he been human, he would have called an uber, a lyft, or given up. he was getting nowhere fast and the road had to be excruciatingly wearying. the tenacity was laudable. his journey, auspicious. he had chutzpah and sisu rolled into one.

we videoed his movement along the caterpillar slackline. and marveled.

ken called and david told him of the previous week, a week in which he had been on the slackline, not sure of the destination, but absolutely aware of the challenges. listening intently, asking questions, teasing a bit, and being a sweet big brother to his little brother, ken lamented, “life’s vicissitudes, eh?”. ah yes. “surviving life’s ups and downs, with special emphasis on the downs”, vicis, the root descendent of the word “vicissitudes”, is latin and means “change”. you betcha there’s change.

i’ve decided we are all on some kind of slackline and out in the farthest galaxy someone or something is watching us as we flip over to the left, upside down, right ourselves, flip over to the right, upside down, right ourselves and make the tiniest bit of progress as we go.

they take a video and they blog about us.

just like we blog about vici, the caterpillar.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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remotely intuitive. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we have a basket under the tv on the tv stand. in it are all the associated remote control devices. remote for the tv, remote for the cable, remote for the firestick, remote for the dvd player, remote for the older chromecast, universal remote, remote for the ipod dock and a remote for the standing fan, because it seems to be in good company there.

i remember the days – way way back in my growing up house on long island – when we would be sitting and watching our blackandwhite tv in the den. you had to turn the dial to switch the channels and turn a different dial to raise and lower the volume. pretty straight-forward. a product of older parents, i would watch doris day/rock hudson movies and mash and petticoat junction and gidget together with them, never feeling like we were underserved, never thinking we didn’t have enough choices.

and then there’s now. an infinite number of choices.

and yet, we look at each other and ponder when we should cut the cable and minimize – slightly – the cost of all these choices. we know that wifi will connect us to the firestick thing or the chromecast thing or – should we decide a smarter tv is in order – the roku thing. as it is, there are already too many remotes. i personally have lost track of how to access all of it. i think a smart tv would make tv-viewing-life easier that way. but, when is enough enough?

i remember when i wanted to watch a movie – a dvd – after my son left for college and i was an early-on empty nester. i had no idea how to set up the tv (you know, that bottom left button on the tv remote – nonotthecableremotethetvremote! – that sets things to av or something like that) so i called the boy. he patiently walked me through the process, which i wrote down in an effort to not have to call him again.

yikes. it is not necessarily intuitive. and now, with all the paraphernalia and a non-smart tv that’s rapidly approaching “vintage” (even though it is a flat screen and cost a bazillion dollars back in the day) it’s even less intuitive. middle age has its technological challenges. i don’t feel like anyone warned us.

add to that the fact that it is difficult to find something worthy to watch. we roll our eyes as we roll through the viewing guide. and keep a list of things people have recommended you can find elsewhere without all the accessories or, perhaps, with a few less. there’s really a short list of the things we care to view anyway.

goodness! ikea has the right idea. draw pictures and people will figure it out. simple. intuitive. they’ll get it.

my intuitive reaction is to just turn off the tv.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the stars are watching. [k.s. friday]

littlebabyscion is ready. i washed it and vacuumed it and wiped out the inside, reorganizing its small storage spaces, checking to make sure the necessities were there. we travel always with a small tool kit, duct tape (this is from experience), twist ties, rubber bands of all sizes and a big maglite flashlight. light is always good on a dark highway, but the light was barely discernible when i checked it, so i changed the batteries and put extras in a small bag that also has jumper cables and a quart of oil, things we have determined to be practical. in the winter there are a few additions, a few things that my sweet poppo always made sure i carried along. but it’s still late summer, so the extender snow brush/scraper can hang in the garage just a bit longer and the kitty litter doesn’t need to come along. littlebabyscion is ready to go to the shop today and come home later with a muffler that doesn’t make noise. (to muffle: to make quieter and more difficult to hear; muffler: a device fixed to the exhaust of a motor vehicle to reduce engine noise.) it waits patiently in the driveway until The Time.

the people who know – like our mechanic, the exhaust system shop, our plumber, our electrician, the drain experts, tree services, gardening wizards, the company we will choose to be our mason – they are like lights in the darkness. along with their expertise and the wisdom of friends who have beentheredonethat we survive the normal – and not-so-normal – challenges of home and car ownership. it would seem rare – a person without some sort of concentric circle of informants surrounding them in problem-solving and decision-making. asking questions, asking for advice, seeking information are the basis for learning and, it seems, every day is an opportunity for that. (and we haven’t even mentioned the whole changing-bodies piece of this life-thing.)

we stood outside on the deck, the only light from a few torches and the bonfire across the yard; we gazed at the sky. it seemed thousands of stars gazed back at us. the james webb telescope has delivered photographs of space back to us here on this planet, a place that feels big but is merely tiny in the vast. seeing billions and billions of light years away, i read that the webb captures not just the birth of stars but, also, their last dances. it is hard to wrap your head around looking back in time in such a profound way. the light goes on and on. and on.

we each build a framework around ourselves. none of us exists without the other, really. at a time when our purple-mountain-majesty-land continues to be divided and people fight for control and power and are practicing efforts serving to undermine, marginalize, divide further, it would seem prudent to remember the tiny-in-vast. transience.

we can be the light for each other…in so many ways. or we can snuff it out and try to go on without. the stars are watching.

always prepared, always planning ahead for possible big bangs, my poppo would vote for light.

*****

TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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never forgotten. [d.r. thursday]

there were big trees where i grew up. solid oaks and maples, a woods behind our house. as dusk would fall earlier in late summer we’d play hide and seek, so many places to tuck behind. i remember the ease of finding a tree or bushes that would shelter your whole body from view. you’d wonder if you would be found and then you might wonder if they didn’t find you whether they would just leave you there wondering. you’d peek around the trunk, just to make sure the game was still going, not to be left behind. because being left behind – forgotten – is exactly what you didn’t want to happen. but sometimes kids can be not-so-nice, just like adults, and you would find yourself standing behind the tree or crouched behind the bush, and the game would move down the street and you’d hear spud starting up.

this morning someone posted the meditations before kaddish online, reminding me i had saved these words since the day we attended a touching memorial service on zoom. extraordinary.

“when i die give what’s left of me away to children and old men that wait to die. and if you need to cry, cry for your brother walking the street beside you. and when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me. i want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. look for me in the people i’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away, at least let me live in your eyes and not your mind. you can love me best by letting hands touch hands, and by letting go of children that need to be free. love doesn’t die, people do. so, when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.”

we walked up the hill away from the lake, knowing it was time to leave. beautiful places are always hard to leave and it feels that each time i do, i leave a piece of me behind in that space that gave me a chance to sink into its beauty. i peek through the trees on the way up and wonder if the lake will remember us or if it will forget.

i am reassured, though, now as an adult, believing – that in the way we eternally touch another in this universe – one tiny star to another – these birch and the lake and the path to water’s edge will remember our footfalls and our breath.

never forgotten.

*****

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windows-open. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we never put the air conditioners in. all summer. it’s been windows-open. summer two.

granted, there were a few days that were a little brutal, the humidity high, the breeze slight. we all melted a little.

but we survived. and, as i sit here, knowing that there are whirring central systems all around us, i can feel the breeze coming in from the east, the sun is gracing the comforter, the chippies are out back trying to dissuade the squirrels from eating at the birdfeeder and it is mostly quiet. our old house breathes and the outdoors comes in.

i guess i know people who spend scarcely any time outside. i personally can’t imagine it. we spend as much time outside as possible. even deck time counts. moments that we get to be up-north are exceptional and this time was no different. it doesn’t matter the weather, though sparklingly sunny days are truly impossible miracles of beauty. but even the rain, falling on the woods and lulling us all, doesn’t deter us and we sneak out in-between to take a walk and find wildflowers on the side of the road.

there is a chipmunk – and i am assuming, with no real basis for it, that it is always the same one – that comes to the fence across the driveway outside my window almost every day. it sits atop the fencepost and chirps loudly, stopping only when i call out the window to him, “hi little guy! hi chippie!” and make conversational chippie noises back at him. satisfied he said good morning (again, an assumption) he scampers off the fence and on to his next task-at-hand. were the window to be closed, i would miss it.

there are trips we want to take – to gorgeous high mountains and red rock canyons, to the atlantic coast, to smoky mountains, to cool canadian provinces, to faraway places overseas. we’ll spend as much time outside in those places as we can, drinking it in.

that window is big and wide open. and there is wild and sensational beauty out there.

but it’s even in our own backyard. and i don’t want to miss it.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the edges of autumn. [two artists tuesday]

somehow breck knows. nature, in all its wisdom, whispers “it’s approaching” and breck’s gorgeous aspen leaves begin to turn.

we sat against our pillows with coffee this morning, a cool breeze through the bedroom windows. the crows were cawing and i could hear the lake pound the rocky shore. there is a beach hazards alert today calling for rip currents and higher waves. it’s a little grey out – the day i am writing this – and you can feel fall in the air. the wistfuls are at bay, waiting just a little longer to kick in.

but the grasses are evidence, as plumes of gold and maroon shoot up toward the sky. the cherry tomato leaves are beginning to yellow. the long stems of daylily flowers – sans blooms – are drying. the chippies are amping things up. there are just a few less birds in the morning and we hear geese overhead. up-north, along the side of the lake as we paddled, there were pockets of color. maples turning just a bit, reds and yellows, catching the sunlight. the mornings were cool, sweatshirt-worthy. playing bags in the garage invited a few yellowjackets, their quest to stay alive in september always pre-empting my ease outside as i try to avoid getting stung. it is quieter here at home during the day; school has started. it’s dark now when we wake up and the sun is setting earlier in the evening. autumn is arriving. we are standing at the edges.

we sat on the deck late saturday afternoon after a day of chores around the house. we talked about how it is already september. we tried to remember june. i opened the photo gallery on my phone and went back to the end of may so we could track the events these months. dates and happenings blurred as we strolled through pictures and not-too-distant memories. how does this happen? time flying by.

at the end of a week fraught with sudden worry, we were grateful. we had ridden the roller coaster of fear and intense concern, we had been lingering for days in not-knowing. we reached the end of the week with a few answers, the best of the possible worrisome scenarios. and we were grateful.

breck’s leaves quaked in the breeze that picked up that evening. a few raindrops fell on us. we stayed in our adirondack chairs on the deck and turned our faces to the sky. autumn is coming – in the way seasons roll round and round – and we are happy to greet it.

*****

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on the trail of uuno. [merely-a-thought monday]

i was stunned to see my eyes on his face. maybe even my nose. ok, maybe – for obvious reasons – more my dad’s, my mom’s. but, sheesh, this ancestral dna, undeniable, is a funny thing.

finnish. i am finnish. and proud of it. though there are millions of us, my most-italian-city-in-the-state-of-wisconsin doesn’t have a lot of finns. we are pretty few and far between. the most finnish we get in these parts is people talk about (while mispronouncing) “saunas” and wonder about the use of the word “sisu” (one of my personal favorites.)

recently, in facebookland, my cousin posted this finnish proverb, “the forest will answer you in the way you call to it.” another cousin wrote that she remembered the story about our relative uuno klami, a famous finnish composer, “one of the most significant composers in the era following jean sibelius”, who brought people out into the forest and encouraged them to “sit quietly” and “listen to the woods”.

my sweet momma used to tell me about him, too. she connected the dots back to uuno as where i drew my composing juju. no one else in our family wrote music and, actually, not many even played instruments. my dad used to brag about how he could “turn on the stereo” as his musical talent. yes, he was a cutie-pie with a dad-sense-of-humor. my mom was insistent. in the ever-so-typical “yeah-yeah-yeah” internal response to which we children seem to default, i didn’t go much further than these conversations, a discuriousness i now regret.

so a couple weeks ago i googled him. it was startling to see his picture. because i felt like i recognized the heavy eyebrow lids – frontal bossing or some such term – slightly drooping eyes, the 11’s furrowed over his nose, his actual nose. geesh. he was not blessed with as high a forehead. now, a few generations later…

but – his woods connection. yes. psithurism: the sound of rustling leaves and wind in the trees. gorgeous. inspiring. evocative. i so agree with him.

his music – as i now begin to listen to it, on his trail – many pieces with only one recording, one interpretation. and – in the way of composers and real life – much of his oeuvre is unpublished.

yet i suspect that the forest knows it all. what he brought to it – his muse – returns to the leaves and the wind and is always there.

*****

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our muffler. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

“dirtbag!” i could see it on the guy’s disgusted face in the parking space next to mine at the festival grocery store lot. i tried to wait until he was in his vehicle, but he was futzing around outside his car for too long and i needed to get home with my few groceries, so i started littlebabyscion.

it roared to life. i mean, really roared. susan says it’s pretending to be a ferrari for a few moments in time, but i dunno. it’s a bit more jet-engine-like. “prepare for take-off. we’re number two in line on the runway. cross-check!”

i’ve always wanted to say “cross-check”, mostly because i still haven’t figured out what it really means. i just didn’t anticipate saying it in my car.

anyway, i digress.

i know the guy in the parking lot drew ridiculous conclusions about me – me…63 and generally not this noisy – and my vehicle – littlebabyscion, our faithful and trusted toyota companion for the last 258,000 miles and a vital continued part of our retirement planning so as to avoid a new car payment. in the matter of mere seconds, he thought he knew it all, simply from the din. sigh. go drive your buick, you buickman, you.

littlebabyscion – in the middle of other crisis – decided the stress was just too much and blew a hole in the muffler assembly. this happens every september or october; i’m really not sure why they make mufflers out of stainless steel but all the connectors out of metals that rust out rather quickly. regardless, we can count on visiting the exhaust system shop each early fall.

it quickly became louder, from the whisperings i could hear when we left the medical center to the loud and booming voice it had announcing its arrival – and departure – from, well, everywhere.

it’s humbling to drive a car down the road that is making too much noise. people stare. people roll their eyes. you know people are thinking, “geez. get your dang car fixed.”

and – in big surprising news – people make assumptions.

we have an appointment. i called the shop within a half hour of The Noise starting and drove by for a drive-up check to make sure nothing was dragging (which i hope-against-hope stays the way it is now – a tiny strap is holding things together, much like my composure.) our appointment is next wednesday, so there is a considerable amount of time we will still be driving littlebabyscion…aka the-noise-machine.

it surely is a reminder to not make assumptions. we cannot stand in another’s shoes. we cannot know the details of another’s life. we cannot decide that someone is a “dirtbag” simply because their non-sports-car is making a tad bit of noise. it reminds me to step back and give lots of grace.

and to wear earplugs. ’cause it ain’t gettin’ any quieter.

*****

ps. we all know the saying about the word “assume”. by golly, it’s true!

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the hawk. [k.s. friday]

we had eye contact.

in the middle of planting grasses he flew in. i turned and he was perched on the fence, studying us. we looked at each other – eye to eye. and this hawk sat still, just watching. before i could get d’s attention and have him turn to see him, the hawk flew off, eventually landing in the higher branches of the east neighbor’s tree, where he stayed for quite some time. we could see him there and he could see us.

from his vantage point i ponder what else he could see. the horizon stretched out before him, his high flight giving him an edge for observation, clarity. his eagle eye taking in the flow around him, the circle of life ever-present.

now it makes me wonder if he knew what was coming, how grounded we would soon need to be. things change in a moment and moving forward requires determination and some acuity. perhaps it was there to let us borrow some of its vast abilities, its confidence, the sense of being in control.

i stared at the hawk. the hawk stared back at me. peacefully, focused. i was just a little astounded at how close it was. maybe it was a little astounded at how close i was. no matter, we both stayed put and the moments slowed down until he took flight.

*****

TAKE FLIGHT from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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